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Kicking For Kids 

Martial Arts Mentoring Program Creates Community Through Self-Confidence

Scott and Jennifer Tasker of North Metro Martial Arts in Smyrna are focused on changing the lives of children and families in our community through their non-profit mentoring program Kicking For Kids, proudly proclaiming, “we are building strong roots in our community and loving every minute of it.” Serving a wide spectrum of students, this program focuses on improving self-confidence, decision-making, accountability, and communication through a virtual learning academy, an after-school program, and evening martial arts classes.

Kicking For Kids’ virtual learning academy offers an alternative to at-home schooling and the after-school mentoring program (NOT a curriculum-based martial arts program) focuses on building confidence through mentoring and developing pro-social life skills through team-building exercises. Kicking For Kids recently got creative with their program availability during the shutdown by offering their students video and Zoom class options. They still offer Zoom classes to those who prefer that option but their in-person classes are once again in session, with Kicking For Kids following all of the CDC guidelines for COVID-19 including: temperature checks, social distancing, masks, hand sanitizer, and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting of the facility throughout every day.

All children are welcome to attend Kicking for Kids, but kids who lack confidence, struggle to fit in team sporting activities, and those who need structure and discipline especially benefit from this program’s specialized environment. Students with special needs, including ADD, ADHD, autism spectrum, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, sensory processing, and Down syndrome thrive through regular class integration and training with all other students. At-risk students who previously exhibited aggressive or disrespectful behavior tend to curb their negative behaviors and actually excel in leadership roles after becoming enrolled in the program.

Nickajack Elementary School counselor, Nicole Pfleger Weber, praises the program. “We have seen a 100% decrease in the number of behavior referrals from the mentoring students participating in Kicking For Kids programming. In addition, the reading inventory scores of the mentoring students have increased by 40% from the beginning to the end of the school year.” The Kicking For Kids program also provides structure for students who simply need an opportunity to participate but face financial barriers, are homeless, or are living in shelters, extended stay hotels, or subsidized housing. This all-inclusive community program provides positive mentoring relationships for students in a safe and structured environment that fosters social, emotional, and physical growth as well as a safe haven where parents and kids can come together for social networking and support. The Taskers see positive results with the program, pointing out that “Given the opportunity to participate, the kids are realizing that they do have a future and the confidence that comes with that realization filters into all parts of their lives.”

For more information about Kicking for Kids or to make a donation to this amazing local non-profit, visit KickingForKids.org, call 404.500.9701, or email info@KickingForKids.org 

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